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Passing on a Heritage

A heritage is something that is possessed by one person and passed on to someone else who follows after. To the unsaved, heritage is often nothing more than material possessions, which are passed to family and survivors through wills, trusts, and gifts.

For the family of God, however, the important thing that must be passed on is a spiritual heritage the gospel and the principles from the Word of God which is extended to others through teaching, preaching, example, and prayer. The gospel and the Bible life principles enable men not only to obtain eternal life, but also to live lives that glorify and please the Lord.

Today, a battle is raging over which heritage will be passed on. Many young people are receiving a corrupt heritage from their peers and the media. The devil will make sure that this bad seed that has been sown sprouts into reeds blowing in the wind of humanistic thinking, brambles of sensual behavior, and weeds of materialistic desires.

Mature Christians, however, can have a powerful influence on those who follow after if they seize every opportunity to plant and water the seeds of the gospel and Bible principles in the fertile soil of the minds and hearts of the young people they contact. As this godly heritage is sown, God is responsible for the harvest of mighty trees of righteousness and character, sweet fruits of truth and virtue, and fragrant flowers of love and grace.

In II Timothy 1:3, Paul mentions the heritage he received from his forefathers. In verse five he then refers to the heritage that Timothy received from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. In chapter two he admonishes Timothy to pass on the heritage that he has received. In Psalm 16:6, the writer declares that he has a goodly heritage. In Psalm 78 he urges the people not to hide their spiritual heritage but to show it to the coming generations, emphasizing the praises of the Lord, His strength, and His wonderful works. Teachers and parents should reiterate to those in their care God's majesty, power, past performance, and present miracles, especially as they have been manifested in their own lives.

Salvation sets a person's desire to live a life that pleases and glorifies the Lord. Bible principles are the means to accomplish that desire. Following are ten of the most important Bible life principles that are part of a basic spiritual heritage necessary to help any new Christian become a stalwart saint in Christlikeness and in life service that honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Learn to trust God in every situation and problem of life (Proverbs 3:5-6). Whatever happens, give thanks for it immediately (I Thessalonians 5:18), for God is working all things together for the Christian's good (Romans 8:28). He is the only one who has the wisdom, love, and power to properly lead and guide a person's life (Nahum 1:7, John 10:4, Psalm 48:14). This guidance is best received from the Holy Spirit through daily Bible reading and prayer (confession, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition). Search out and follow Bible principles, which develop Christian character (II Timothy 2:15). Christian character is achieved by a person's consistently acting on Bible principles rather than on his own selfish desires and feelings.

  2. Use the mind for God (II Timothy 1:7). God gave man a mind to be used for His glory, and this mind contains a will. A person can make up his mind to use that will to glorify God with a servant's heart or to go against God and His authority structure (Proverbs 8:13; Philippians 2:5-8; I Timothy 6:1-5). (See Chart 1.) Sinful and virtuous behavior begins in the mind, and the will determines which shall dominate (James 1:14,15; Romans 7:18-25).

  3. Maintain a positive faith attitude (Hebrews 11:1,16). A positive faith attitude is necessary to honor God. The Scripture tells us we ought to maintain positive faith thoughts, for they are godly thoughts (Philippians 4:8) and to cast down negative doubt thoughts, for they are devilish thoughts (II Corinthians 10:5). If a person's life and goals are dedicated to God, then his thoughts will be right (Proverbs 16:3).

  4. Set goals to give direction to life (Proverbs 13:12,19; Philippians 3:13). The mind works best when it has goals, both short-range and long-range, upon which to focus. Large, comprehensive goals can be broken into smaller ones that can be achieved in a day or a week. At a regular time every week, goals should be reviewed and new ones set. The majority of goals should be compassionate goals, directed toward serving God and people rather than toward self and acquiring things (Proverbs 16:9). The goals should be worthy of an investment of one's life. Working toward such goals teaches a person to crucify self daily (Luke 9:23).

  5. Develop the virtues of modesty, moral purity, and gracious love, which are an important part of a Christian life (I Thessalonians 4:1-7; John 13:34,35). Display of the body and immodesty, which promotes lust and immorality, must be avoided by being discreet in using appropriate dress, speech, and actions. A person shows love for his future mate by maintaining moral purity. Many have taken the purity vow: Believing that the Bible teaches moral purity (I Thessalonians 4:1-7, I Corinthians 6:18-20) I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, my future mate, and my future children to be sexually pure from this day forward. They have copied the vow on a card, dated it, signed it, and carry it with them. Gracious love is evidenced by sensitivity, tenderness, and compassion in relationships with others. The Christian who displays such love has learned to control his tongue (James 3:2-12).

  6. Learn the virtue of loving through giving (II Corinthians 9:6-8). The greatest satisfaction in life comes from giving instead of receiving (Acts 20:35). This applies to time, talents, and affection as well as money and material possessions. Tithing the first fruits to God is the first step in learning to give (Proverbs 3:9,10). Giving with a right motive is loving and loving involves giving.

  7. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit indwells a Christian at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:16-17) The Christian's body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, within which and through which He operates (I Corinthians 6:19). The Bible states that Christians need to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This filling is, for most Christians, a decision after one has been saved. It is accomplished by a person's completely turning over control of his body to Jesus Christ, then letting Christ be the Lord of his life (Romans 12:1). It is denying self and letting Christ live through his life (Galatians 2:20). It is identifying with Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10; 3:14-20). See Chart II. It isn't how much of the Holy Spirit a person has, but rather how much of that person the Holy Spirit has.

    The results of the filling of the Holy Spirit are the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), victory over sin (Romans 6:11-13), the love of God in the soul (I John 4:11,12), and a strong desire to reach the lost with the gospel, to pursue righteousness, and to maintain an attitude of praise. These are the main things that happen, although some Christians report other manifestations and attitudes.

    With the filling of the Holy Spirit, following dedication, God always gives at least one gift, which He calls the Christian to use in a lifetime ministry (Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; I Peter 4:10, 11; I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-31). There is never a call without a gift and never a gift without a call. A Christian should identify his gift (which is something he does well, as recognized by himself and others) and empowered by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:7,11), use it in his lifetime gospel ministry for God's glory. For example, my gift is teaching, which I have used in university classes, Sunday school classes, camps, family seminars, counseling, and in later years writing articles and books.

  8. Glorify God with continual praise (Psalm 50:23; 57:7,11; 104:33; 107:8,9). Praise should be given for personal blessings and for God's creation (Revelation 4:10,11) and redemption (Revelation 5:9,12,13). This kind of praise gets the Christian ready for Heaven and brings Heaven down where man lives. Praise should also be given daily (Psalm 145:2), for God's glory (Exodus 5:11), and God's holiness (Isaiah 6:3). David praised God in the morning for His loving kindness and in the evening for His faithfulness (Psalm 92:1,2).

  9. Keep a soulwinning ministry going continuously throughout your Christian life (II Corinthians 5:11-21). The greatest expression of love that a person can show to others is to declare the gospel to them, lead them to Christ, and disciple them. That expression also fulfills Jesus Christ's Great Commission commandment, thereby showing love for Him (Matthew 28:19,20; John 14:21).

  10. Live a holy, separated life (Titus 2:11-14; II Corinthians 6:14-18; I John 2:15-17). Determining values and standards (based on the Ten Commandments and love for God and others) helps a person remain unaffected by peer pressure. Action seen on TV and in films, books read, music heard, the church and school attended, and the people claimed as friends have tremendous influence on the direction of a Christian's life and must be constantly evaluated (Psalm 101:3).

Following these principles will not earn salvation, for that comes only by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior (Ephesians 2:8,9; John 1:12,13; 3:36; I John 5:11-13). However, following these principles will insure a happy, productive, and successful life lived for the glory of the Lord.

Christians, especially teachers, preachers, and parents, are instructed to continually proclaim and pass on the spiritual heritage. The recipient has to make up his mind to appropriate and act upon it. God is responsible for keeping the heritage and guarding it until it comes to fruition (II Timothy 1:12).

by Dr. Walter Fremont. Updated October 21, 2015.